Road Patrol: Engineers discuss road design

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With mountains come valleys, and with valleys come flooding. 

North Central West Virginia experienced heavier rainfall than usual during the month of September, which has an effect on roads.

“Ditches can overflow very easily, and this in turn can cause an undermining in the base of the asphalt pavement and this can cause our flash flooding. The Division of Highways does an excellent job of maintaining these ditches and helping to repair whenever this does occur,” said Tabitha Lafferre, Fairmont State Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Technology.

Although, it’s not a problem with an easy fix. 

“We can’t go and change a mountain and make it not a mountain,” Lafferre said.

Engineers do work to plan roads in areas in with high flood risks, but that poses challenges as well.

“Whenever we design an interstate we have more room for those, and we have more room to put ditches,” Lafferee said. “If we’re looking at a small county road with a very steep hill on one side, we don’t have a lot of room to work with and put a large ditch in.”

But even in tricky areas, DOH crews find ways to limit flooding and maintain water-damaged roads.

“We can break that up and put multiple culverts to try to ease the flow in the travel,” she said.

Regardless of the road, during heavy rain it’s important drivers stay alert and look out for high and standing water. Remember, turn around, don’t drown.
 

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